One of the biggest concerns people have while they’re on vacation is: what do we do if it rains? Luckily, some of the most fascinating museums in the world are located on the West Coast of the United States! No matter what you are interested in, whether it is art, history or science, there will be an amazing museum for you to explore once you have arrived at your destination by bus.
Check out some of our favorite museums in the Western United States below!
Founded in 1965, the Los Angeles Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States, featuring a collection of over 135,000 objects spanning from ancient times to today. Due to the mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions, there will always be something new to see for you, no matter how many times you visit the museum. Exhibitions include art collections from a wide variety of cultures, including but not limited to Egyptian, Hawaiian and Japanese art. You will also find art from the Renaissance period, pre-Colombian America as well as a good variety of modern and contemporary art.
Some of the permanent installations include Random International’s ‘Rain Room’ and Michael Heizer’s 340-ton rock fragment sculpture ‘Levitated Mass’. Perhaps the most famous exhibit is Urban Lights, a multi-tiered installation of 202 antique streetlights, located at the museum’s entrance. Pictures of the installation have been shared on Social Media by visitors of the museum an innumerable amount of times. Even if you don’t classify yourself as an art fan, you will definitely enjoy the unique and interactive exhibits at LACMA.
LACMA’s 20-acre campus is in the middle of Los Angeles. Adult tickets are available for $25 and student tickets can be bought for $21, so it really is worth spending the day here!
Located in downtown San Diego’s Navy Pier, the USS Midway Museum is the most popular naval museum in the United States. Around 200,000 sailors served aboard the aircraft carrier from 1945 until 1992. What’s more? You can explore the floating city with a self-guided audio tour voiced by past servicemen describing their daily lives onboard. The Midway features dozens of restored, vintage aircrafts on its 4-acre flight deck, including jets and helicopters as well as 60 exhibits that let you explore the living quarters, kitchens and much more.
Make sure to bring your camera as some lucky visitors have even spotted dolphins and seals from the ship’s deck! Save a few dollars and buy your tickets online now!
Founded in 1853, the California Academy of Science is among one of the largest museums of natural history in the world and home to an aquarium, planetarium and a rainforest. Located in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the museum will let you explore different worlds through a range of exhibitions including a penguin colony from Africa, a shark lagoon and a ‘Tour of the Universe’ in the planetarium, just to name a few. Check out the Earthquake exhibit and experience what it’s like to be in one of San Francisco’s major earthquakes. With so many exhibits and different activities to do, you can easily end up spending the whole day here.
A range of events are held at the museum, including a sleepover night where you can explore the exhibits after hours! Every Thursday night the museum turns into one of San Francisco’s most popular cultural night spots, where you can enjoy a themed party with a live band or DJ and a dance floor! You can even explore the aquariums and exhibits while the party rages on!
The National Atomic Testing Museum explores the science and history of nuclear testing in the Nevada desert. With the most comprehensive collection of exhibits about nuclear history in the world, this is the place to visit if you love science and history. Between 1951 and 1992, nearly 1,000 nuclear tests occurred only 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, at the Nevada Test Site. Before the testing went underground, watching the mushroom clouds from the city used to be a tourist attraction and hotels even ran tours to viewing sites.
The museum covers the history of the atomic bomb during the periods of the Manhattan project, World War II and the Cold War. An interactive movie theatre even allows you to experience what it would be like to watch a nuclear test in person! The museum also has rare artifacts including a nuclear reactor as well as black and white films from the 1950s. So, take a break from the bright lights of the casinos at the Strip in Las Vegas and check out a unique part of America’s history.
Opened in 1959, the Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in Arizona and home to more than 18,000 pieces of art. The museum features exhibitions from various art styles and often hosts traveling exhibitions that quickly become very popular Instagram spots.
One unique aspect of the Phoenix Art Museum is its fashion collection, comprised of more than 4,500 garments from the 18th to 20th century. It features designers such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
Check online to see which events the museum is hosting during your stay in Phoenix! Regular events include exhibition openings and the museum’s participation in First Friday, a popular art show and festival in the city.
If that is not enough to convince you, here is another tidbit for you: If you visit the Phoenix Art Museum between 3pm and 9pm on Wednesdays, entry is free! Otherwise, tickets are $18 for adults.